Our Saturday journey started off with a cab ride to Hualamphong (the train station), a 2 hour train train ride to Ayutthaya, and then a crunched backseat tuk-tuk ride, where the driver dropped us off at us a backpacker/foreigner friendly street.
We fueled up on ginger drinks and spicy tofu before renting some rickety bikes. We excitedly and haphazardly rode our bikes toward the direction of Ayutthaya’s ruins.
Uneven, dusty-orange colored sidewalks led us around the ruins which spanned several streets, North to South.
Ayuttaya, now a World Heritage Site, was once the capital of Thailand (Siam at the time). In the 1300’s, and for the next couple hundred years, it was one of Southeast Asia’s most glorious capitals, and it became a powerful center for the arts and trade routes. However, after King Narai’s death, conflict ensued, and the area was invaded by the Burmese in 1767. The remaining areas we explored were Wat Maha That, which was the royal monastery, and Wat Rachaburana, a temple.
As interesting as a the ruins are, to see the dilapidated architectural glory from the past, I found it just as interesting to watch the Thai ladies and gents dolled up for their Saturday stroll, their outfits incomplete without a cute little umbrella to shade their faces. The amount of swag that Thai people have is ridiculous.
When winding through the ruins, we came across the occasional complete Buddha, sitting straight and strong in all his stone glory.
However, it was dismembered Buddha body parts that were everywhere, remnants of the Burmese destruction.
The most captivating body part was a Buddha head which has been lodged in a Banyan Tree (Fig Tree) for thousands of years; Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment under a Banyan tree, how ironic. After a beheading by the Burmese, the young roots of this tree must have grasped the Buddha head, and the two have grown together ever since.
I, too, am continuing to grow here in Thailand, and my frequent explorations continually give me new discoveries and insight about about my current country of residence. 🙂
“It seems in fact that the more advanced society is, the greater will be its interest in ruined things, for it will see in them a redemptively sobering reminder to the fragility of its own achievements.” -Alain de Botton